Warren v. Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
ORDER RULING ON REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION: The court ADOPTS the findings of the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 22), and AFFIRMS the final decision of the Commissioner denying Plaintiff's claim for Disability Insurance Benefits pursuant to sentence four (4) of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Signed by Honorable J Michelle Childs on 1/25/2016. (gnan )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Janice Cope Warren,
Carolyn C. Colvin, Acting Commissioner
of the Social Security Administration,
Civil Action No. 4:14-cv-02755-JMC
This matter is before the court for a review of the United States Magistrate Judge’s
Report and Recommendation (“Report”), filed on November 22, 2015 (ECF No. 22),
recommending that the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the “Commissioner”)
denying Plaintiff’s claim for Disability Insurance Benefits be affirmed.
Plaintiff filed an
Objection (ECF No. 26) to the Report, to which Defendant filed a Response (ECF No. 29). The
Report sets forth the relevant facts and legal standards, and this court incorporates them herein
without a recitation.
The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court that has no presumptive
weight—the responsibility to make a final determination remains with this court. See Mathews
v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270–71 (1976). The court reviews de novo only those portions of a
magistrate judge’s report to which specific objections are filed, and it reviews those portions not
objected to—including those portions to which only “general and conclusory” objections have
been made—for clear error. Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th
Cir. 2005); Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir. 1983); Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d
44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). The court may accept, reject, or modify—in whole or in part—the
recommendation of the Magistrate Judge or recommit the matter with instructions. See 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (2012).
The role of the federal judiciary in the administrative scheme established by the Social
Security Act is a limited one. Section 405(g) of the Act provides, “[T]he findings of the
Commissioner of Social Security as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be
conclusive . . . .”
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2012).
“Substantial evidence has been defined
innumerable times as more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance.”
Celebrezze, 331 F.2d 541, 543 (4th Cir. 1964).
This standard precludes a de novo review of the factual circumstances that substitutes the
court’s findings for those of the Commissioner. See Vitek v. Finch, 438 F.2d 1157 (4th Cir.
1971). The court must uphold the Commissioner’s decision as long as it is supported by
substantial evidence. See Blalock v. Richardson, 483 F.2d 773, 775 (4th Cir. 1972). “From this
it does not follow, however, that the findings of the administrative agency are to be mechanically
accepted. The statutorily granted right of review contemplates more than an uncritical rubber
stamping of the administrative agency.” Flack v. Cohen, 413 F.2d 278, 279 (4th Cir. 1969).
“[T]he courts must not abdicate their responsibility to give careful scrutiny to the whole record to
assure that there is a sound foundation for the [Commissioner’s] findings, and that this
conclusion is rational.” Vitek, 438 F.2d at 1157–58.
In this case, Plaintiff filed an Objection to the Report, in which she appears to re-assert
the exact arguments she did before the Magistrate Judge. (See ECF No. 26 (arguing primarily
that the “substantial evidence does not support the ALJ’s rejection of the evidence regarding
[Plaintiff’s] multiple impairments” and that the “ALJ erred in finding that Mrs. Warren was not
credible”).) Indeed, in no part of her Objection does Plaintiff reference the Magistrate Judge’s
discussion regarding his Report’s recommendation to this court.
This court “must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge’s disposition that
has been properly objected to.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). The Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit has made clear that a district court reviews de novo only those portions of a magistrate
judge’s report to which specific objections are filed, and it reviews those portions not objected
to—including those portions to which only “general and conclusory” objections have been
made—for clear error. Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir.
2005) (emphasis added) (citing 28 U.S.C.A. § 636(b)(1) (West 1993 & Supp. 2005)); Camby v.
Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir. 1983); Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982).
After a thorough review of the Report and the record in this case, the court finds the
Report provides an accurate summary of the facts and law and that there is no clear error. The
court therefore ADOPTS the findings of the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation
(ECF No. 22), and AFFIRMS the final decision of the Commissioner denying Plaintiff’s claim
for Disability Insurance Benefits pursuant to sentence four (4) of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
United States District Judge
January 25, 2016
Columbia, South Carolina
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